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A Proadway Pageant

Walt Whitman 1819 (West Hills) – 1892 (Camden)

  OVER the western sea, hither from Niphon come,
  Courteous, the swart-cheek'd two-sworded envoys,
  Leaning back in their open barouches, bare-headed, impassive,
  Ride to-day through Manhattan.

  I do not know whether others behold what I behold,
  In the procession, along with the nobles of Asia, the errand-
  Bringing up the rear, hovering above, around, or in the ranks
  But I will sing you a song of what I behold, Libertad.

  When million-footed Manhattan, unpent, descends to her pavements; 10
  When the thunder-cracking guns arouse me with the proud roar I love;
  When the round-mouth'd guns, out of the smoke and smell I love, spit
  their salutes;
  When the fire-flashing guns have fully alerted me--when heaven-clouds
  canopy my city with a delicate thin haze;
  When, gorgeous, the countless straight stems, the forests at the
  wharves, thicken with colors;
  When every ship, richly drest, carries her flag at the peak;
  When pennants trail, and street-festoons hang from the windows;
  When Broadway is entirely given up to foot-passengers and foot-
  standers--when the mass is densest;
  When the façades of the houses are alive with people--when eyes gaze,
  riveted, tens of thousands at a time;
  When the guests from the islands advance--when the pageant moves
  forward, visible;
  When the summons is made--when the answer that waited thousands of
  years, answers; 20
  I too, arising, answering, descend to the pavements, merge with the
  crowd, and gaze with them.

  Superb-faced Manhattan!
  Comrade Americanos!--to us, then, at last, the Orient comes.

  To us, my city,
  Where our tall-topt marble and iron beauties range on opposite
  sides--to walk in the space between,
  To-day our Antipodes comes.

  The Originatress comes,
  The nest of languages, the bequeather of poems, the race of eld,
  Florid with blood, pensive, rapt with musings, hot with passion,
  Sultry with perfume, with ample and flowing garments, 30
  With sunburnt visage, with intense soul and glittering eyes,
  The race of Brahma comes!

  See, my cantabile! these, and more, are flashing to us from the
  As it moves, changing, a kaleidoscope divine it moves, changing,
  before us.

  For not the envoys, nor the tann'd Japanee from his island only;
  Lithe and silent, the Hindoo appears--the Asiatic continent itself
  appears--the Past, the dead,
  The murky night morning of wonder and fable, inscrutable,
  The envelop'd mysteries, the old and unknown hive-bees,
  The North--the sweltering South--eastern Assyria--the Hebrews--the
  Ancient of Ancients,
  Vast desolated cities--the gliding Present--all of these, and more,
  are in the pageant-procession. 40

  Geography, the world, is in it;
  The Great Sea, the brood of islands, Polynesia, the coast beyond;
  The coast you, henceforth, are facing--you Libertad! from your
  Western golden shores
  The countries there, with their populations--the millions en-masse,
  are curiously here;
  The swarming market places--the temples, with idols ranged along the
  sides, or at the end--bonze, brahmin, and lama;
  The mandarin, farmer, merchant, mechanic, and fisherman;
  The singing-girl and the dancing-girl--the ecstatic person--the
  secluded Emperors,
  Confucius himself--the great poets and heroes--the warriors, the
  castes, all,
  Trooping up, crowding from all directions--from the Altay mountains,
  From Thibet--from the four winding and far-flowing rivers of
  China, 50
  From the Southern peninsulas, and the demi-continental islands--from
  These, and whatever belongs to them, palpable, show forth to me, and
  are seiz'd by me,
  And I am seiz'd by them, and friendlily held by them,
  Till, as here, them all I chant, Libertad! for themselves and for

  For I too, raising my voice, join the ranks of this pageant;
  I am the chanter--I chant aloud over the pageant;
  I chant the world on my Western Sea;
  I chant, copious, the islands beyond, thick as stars in the sky;
  I chant the new empire, grander than any before--As in a vision it
  comes to me;
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:07 min read

Walt Whitman

Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. more…

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